Social media after the Boston Marathon bombing had its highs and lows. The lowest points were definitely all of the false reports and rush to get information out when authorities were chasing one of the bombers. On the other end of the spectrum, it was neat to see how the city used collaborative software such as Google Docs and help reunite lost loved ones. Buzzfeed has an article on how San Francisco is rolling out its own disaster recovery social media site.
What’s become clear over the last year is that there’s is a need for disaster and crisis coordination online, beyond hashtags. And San Francisco, the earthquake capital of the country, might have the solution.
In collaboration with the design firm IDEO, the city is creating a social networking website and app to connect people who want to help with those who need it. Through the SF72 platform, you will be able to preregister your home, supplies you have — say, an emergency generator — and relevant skills, such as emergency first aid. Instead of scanning hashtags, people will be able to simply log in to a preexisting community, knowing there will be specific offers for help organized by neighborhood.
“We looked at everything from CB radio protocols to earthquake apps, as well as emerging and established social platforms,” says Kate Lydon, who led the project for IDEO. “The central insight that SF72 is built upon is this: in the event of an emergency, human relationships and a community network are more important than a backpack filled with supplies— that people might not know how to use and are often out of date.”
Most government emergency response departments, including FEMA, use social media to communicate with the public. But they aren’t enabling conversations between other people looking to coordinate. As we saw during hurricane Katrina (and to a lesser extent Sandy), FEMA’s immediately ability to help can pale in comparison to what regular people offer each other on the ground, almost immediately. Coordinating that help is essential.
You can read more at San Francisco Is Building A Social Network For Emergencies Only